Where to learn?
I have a school asking me to support their SIMS network, but i have no experience at all with it. I have 12 years experience in managing curriculum windows and apple networks.
I have spoken to Capita, briefly, but they arent very helpful. Maybe i am asking the wrong questions.
Where do i start? Is any training available? Can anyone recommend the right next steps?
Thanks in advance.
You are facing a mammoth learning curve if you wish to acquire a sound enough knowledge base to support a school with SIMS. I guess that you should first find a friendly SIMS Partnership School fthat you can visit and view the system first hand. Then, LA SIMS Support Teams and Capita Support themselves run courses on all the different areas of functionality that SIMS has, but the size of the whole package means that there are many different courses needed to cover all the areas.
Most high end users that are proficient in all areas of the SIMS Software are usually those who have worked with the software for some considerable time and have grown with it! You really do need a working knowledge of the whole system to be able to understand it thoroughly.
As sivadam said, however, i presume they know that you know nothing. The only way to get going is to try it and learn as you go. That's how i started in my first job.
So long as they know what they are getting and that you'll be learning as you go, you just need someone to show you around it, at the school, and you can study the built-in docs and learn as you go. It would be better if you just worked there full time.
Where is their current support, can't you do half and half for a while..?
The key issue is knowing how things interact with eachother. You can go and teach yourself the admissions side, but then if you don't really know how reporting works, or how fees works, you could end up doing things that don't work for another module and create more work for yourself as things don't work together.
If they aren't using SIMS very well at the moment, then you may be able to assist them, being an experienced support professional. If they already have a lot of established systems, and use it well, you may not be able to do much for them without a lot of trial and error.
Here (EduGeek) is a good place to read up about things, as well as Capita's SupportNet website but that has restricted access. For instance there are quite a number of threads here regarding best practises for assessment, recently how to backup, also, quite a lot of useful stuff on interacting with third party software and automating reports. So plenty of stuff around for you to learn from but without getting hands on it will be hard.
I've been working in a SIMS support come end-user role for three years and it is complicated. I know plenty about it, some support methods, reporting tricks and workarounds, timetabling, lesson monitor, a bit of SLG, wide set of skills needed to support all areas. I'm always finding new things to scratch my head over, like how a sixth form became the parent of her younger sibling on the system (huh?!?!?!).
LA support and help from other schools and SIMS admins is essential. Make contacts, offer to help for help in return. See if someone can show you how to install Green Abbey to make training materials and use it to push that shiny and probably highly destructive sounding button sitting in the vast menu tree you have always wondered about.
And document. Like crazy. Go write some plans now for what you reckon you will need.
And most of all have .... not a lot of fun but bear it enough to not lose your head as you enter the 50th column on that annoying marksheet. ;)